With the sixth pick, the Kings select…(part 4)
D’Angelo Russell – G, Ohio State
Size: 6-foot-5, 193 pounds
2014-15 freshman year stats: 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 2.9 turnovers in 33.9 minutes (35 games).
Why he fits
Sacramento desperately needs playmakers and shooters and Russell can do both. The combo guard out of Ohio State has a chance to stick at the point at the NBA level, but he could just as easily slide over and play the shooting guard as well. He would likely come off the bench as a rookie, but his potential is through the roof.
On the offensive side of the ball, Russell shot an impressive 41.1 percent from long range and 44.9 percent overall. He plays well off the dribble, in the pick-and-roll and can knock down a shot from deep. He is an accomplished scorer for his age and in many ways plays years beyond his experience level.
Perhaps his best traits are his high basketball IQ and his willingness to raise the level of his teammates. Russell has elite instincts and court vision, making him a perfect fit alongside a multitude of backcourt mates. He is a leader who brings a swagger and moxie to the floor.
While he needs work as a defender like most young players, he boasts a near 6-foot-10 wingspan and has solid instincts. Russell is also an excellent rebounder for his position and is more than willing to mix it up in the paint against bigger foes.
Why he doesn’t fit
The Kings have spent their last two lottery picks on shooting guards, which many project as Russell’s natural position. At 19-years-old, he would be another young player on a team in “win now” mode.
Russell lacks elite athleticism and explosiveness, which may limit his defensive ceiling and lead to separation issues on the offensive end. Although considered a top flight prospect, most experts agree that he is more of a a second or third option long-term and lacks superstar potential.
Ben McLemore is under team control for another three seasons, Nik Stauskas four and starting point guard Darren Collison is locked in for two more seasons. Russell wouldn’t be a duplicate piece moving forward, but with so many other glaring holes, the Kings may look to fill a bigger position of need first.
Likelihood he’s available
Unlikely, unless the Kings move up in the draft. The early word is that Russell will go before the Knicks draft at number four, but it’s early in the draft process. The talented young guard won’t make it to number six, but if he does, Sacramento would be silly not to jump all over him, even with McLemore, Stauskas and Collison on the roster.
The draft is a crap shoot, but Russell isn’t. Barring injury, this is a long-term NBA player with high-end upside. Tough to see five teams passing on him, but we say that about a player every year and without fail it happens.